For two years now we’ve been saying what a brilliant thing Seat’s Cupra Ateca is, because it’s basically a Volkswagen Golf R in SUV form. And wondering why VW can’t do the same.
Well, now it has. You’ll have to wait until December, but from then New Zealand buyers will be able to have a Tiguan R, with a throaty 235kW from an upgraded 2.0-litre turbo engine (more than the Cupra’s 221kW, in other words) and a trick AWD system with torque vectoring on the back axle, which can send up to 100 per cent of available power to just one wheel.
The same power and AWD tech will also be offered on the Golf R from November. Which proves the point: the hot Tiguan is essentially a Golf R in SUV form.
It’ll be the flagship of the updated Tiguan range just launched in NZ, which features tweaked styling and some new tech.
You can spot the new Tiguan by its revised front and “T I G U A N” script across the tailgate at the back. Not a big change but it's still a big deal: Tiguan is VW NZ's top-seller.
Tiguan has arrived at the same time as Golf 8 and the 2WD SUV lineup mirrors the new hatch. There are $46,990 Life and $55,990 R-Line (that’s the NZ-market one pictured, in the new Tiguan-exclusive Nightshade Blue colour) models, both powered by a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four with 110kW/250Nm). Just like Golf 8. But unlike Golf, they stick with a six-speed DSG gearbox rather than the hatch's new eight-speed automatic.
Active Cruise Control, keyless entry and power tailgate are standard even on the entry model. The 2WD R-Line gains a special interior with leather upholstery (including sports seats), virtual instruments, upgraded infotainment setup with wireless phone projection, 30-colour ambient lighting and an Area View camera system.
Both 2WD models boast a pretty impressive 1800kg tow capacity.
The 2WD Tiguans are here now, but they’ll be joined by the 4WD versions from July. The entry all-paw model is the $59,990 Style, with a 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre and seven-speed DSG.
The $68,990 4WD R-Line offers a lot more than the 2WD R-Line – not just drive to the rear wheels, but a 169kW/350Nm 2.0-litre, Dynamic Chassis Control, “matrix” LED headlights and head-up display.
The tow rating steps up to 2100kg for the 4WD Tiguans.
We haven't seen the updated seven-seat Tiguan Allspace yet, but that'll arrive in November - AWD only.
Rather cheekily, given the impending arrival of the go-fast version, the Tiguan R-Line badging comprises just the “R” and not so much the “Line” any more, making it harder to differentiate the dressed-up versions from the dramatically quick ones.
But then maybe R buyers won’t care and R-Line drivers will enjoy the ambiguity. Probably a smart move.
Pricing for the Tiguan R is yet to be announced, but that $69k sticker for the 4WD R-Line means the new flagship will be a whole lot more expensive than the $66,990 Cupra Ateca.
Maybe it’ll also be a whole lot more SUV; we can’t wait to find out.
ENGINES: 1.4 and 2.0-litre turbo-petrol fours
POWER: 110kW/250Nm (1.4), 132kW/320Nm (2.0 4WD Style), 162kW/350Nm (2.0 4WD R-Line)
GEARBOX: 6 or 7-speed automated dual clutch, FWD/AWD
ECONOMY: 7.6-8.6l/100km (212g/km)